JC: Jim Othmer’s first novel, The Futurist, found its way to my pile of books-to-be-read several years ago courtesy of JR, who was walking around the office raving about it. That ambitious satire, centered around Yates, the man who sells his idea of the future, regardless of the consequences, nails the materialism that immerses us all.

His new novel, Holy Water is the story of Henry Tuhoe, miserable germaphobic cog in the multinational machine. Henry uses his trusty iPod to tune in the soundtrack to his life — the perfect song, or if necessary, playlist, for every situation. It helps to make the best of his mindless job as a product manager for deodorants and his increasingly insane wife,  which are slowly sucking the life out of him.

Othmer does a great job in the section showing how Henry and Rachel got to where they are: starting out a happy, upwardly mobile Manhattan couple, socializing and working in the city, handsomely rewarded for it. On a whim, based on a trip to the suburbs, they decide that their time in the city has come to an end — that they should move to Long Island and start a family. The smug wink-and-nod cynicism and their unraveling is reminiscent of Revolutionary Road, but, you know, really funny, including an excruciating, more-than-you-want-to-know account of vasectomies. A lot more.

But on this particular day, Tehoe’s got bigger problems. His boss gives him the option: either take a transfer to the third world wonderland Galado to open a call center for a bottled water company or you’re fired. Rachel unhinges herself and he heads for the verdant mountains of Galado.

I’ll leave the plot summary there. Othmer’s novel is populated by strange and twisted characters, some of whom seem to have fallen from the outtakes of a Tom Robbins novel. His wit and satirist’s touch echo both Will Self and George Saunders, especially Saunder’s repeated themes of the absurdity of consumerism.

Holy Water is fine book: funny, smart and strangely hopeful for revolution. Highly recommended.

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3G1B is the collaboration of four friends and colleagues in the book business. Together, they review books and stories, interview authors, and maintain an ongoing conversation about publishing, bookselling, writing, pr, and nearly anything else.

JONATHAN EVISON is the author of All About Lulu and West of Here and TNB's Executive Editor. He likes rabbits. He also likes being the ambiguous fourth guy in the “Three Guys” triumvirate. He is the founder of the secret society, The Fiction Files (if he told, he’d have to kill you). He has a website, but it’s old. Just google him.

DENNIS HARITOU has bought books for Barnes and Noble for seven years, for warehouse clubs for five, and has led a book club. He is currently Director of Merchandise at Bookazine.

JASON CHAMBERS has been in the book business for over fifteen years, including tenures as General Manager/Buyer at Book Peddlers in Athens, GA, and seven years as a Buyer and Merchandise Manager at Bookazine. He now works as an bookstore consultant and occasional web designer.

JASON RICE has worked in the book business for ten years at Random House in sales and marketing and Barnes & Noble as a community relations manager. Currently he is an Assistant Sales Manager and Buyer at Bookazine. His fiction has appeared in several literary magazines online and in print. He was once the pseudonymous book reviewer Frank Bascombe for Ain’t It Cool News. He’s taught photography to American students in the South of France, worked as a bicycle messenger in New York City, and for a long time worked very hard in the film & television business in NYC. Production experience includes the television shows Pete & Pete, Can We Shop ( Joan Rivers' old shopping show), and the films The Pallbearer, Flirting With Disaster, and countless commercials---even a Christina Applegate movie that went straight to video.

One response to “Holy Water by James P. Othmer, another review”

  1. […] Chambers, writing at 3G1B and here, calls Holy Water a “fine book: funny, smart and strangely hopeful for revolution.”  I agree, and […]

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